FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A judge granted a motion Monday morning to delay the sex-trafficking trial of Jason Pope, a Florence County man accused of more than a dozen sex-trafficking counts in 2020.
Pope, known as “DJ Kidd,” had been scheduled to go on trial on Monday, but his attorney asked for a continuance based on a report from an independent expert that said he has has been diagnosed with autism and is incompetent to stand trial. However, two reports by a psychiatrist expert hired by prosecutors determined that Pope is competent to stand trial.
“This is a serious case. My client has serious charges,” said Rose Mary Parham, Pope’s attorney. “I don’t think it’s fair.”
After hearing from both sides on Monday, the judge granted the continuance. A new trial date has not been set, and the next step in the case remains unclear.
“I feel very sorry for him. I think he has the mentality of a 12 or 13-year-old. And I mean despite the fact that he’s 46-years-old,” Parham said. “He has the mentality of a very young boy. And autistic. And our state doesn’t do enough for people with mental health problems.”
Pope was indicted in January 2020 on 14 charges including criminal sexual conduct with a minor, promoting the prostitution of a minor, and multiple counts of human trafficking, kidnapping, and other offenses. He had been scheduled to go trial on April 17 but the judge granted a delay in the case.
Heather Weiss, the South Carolina Deputy Attorney General, said that Pope was given a psych evaluation in 2020 that also said he had autism. She said the information in the new evaluation is not different.
“That hadn’t changed. He simply has an autism spectrum disorder,” Weiss said. “And the case law is very straight forward on that: that an autism spectrum disorder is not a reason to find somebody incompetent.”
Investigators said Pope committed the offense in Florence County by “recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, or soliciting by any means a victim who is under the age of 18 for the purpose of sex trafficking.”
Agents said they were investigating sex crimes in Darlington when they learned through social media that Pope had solicited a person younger than 18 for sex acts. In addition, an affidavit alleged that a person said they received money and other things of value for commercial sex acts from Pope.
Pope continues to be held in the Florence County Detention Center. For all of Pope’s documented arrests in South Carolina and incident reports from the sheriff’s office, see the extensive rap sheet here.
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Dennis Bright is a Digital Producer at News13. He joined the team in May 2021. Dennis is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Follow Dennis on, Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.
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Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.